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Spencer on the Go

Meals on Wheels

You’ve no doubt heard all about street food. Its current incarnation means curry carts, crème brûlées, and taco trucks with Chinese mu shu tacos. Oh, and then there’s the guy with a bike and Italian sandwiches, and the gal who will deliver fresh bahn mi to your office party. At a time when it’s expensive to even consider opening a full-service restaurant, the movement toward pop-up restaurants, upscale sandwiches and burgers in corner groceries, and treks to Dogpatch for spicy chicharrones makes eating an affordable adventure.

San Franciscans love inventive quirk with their slice of pie, so it’s no surprise to find Chef Laurent Katgely’s Spencer on the Go such a popular and talked about venture. In this case, we have a much-loved French bistro restaurant — Chez Spencer — creating a mobile offshoot taco truck tricked out with French lavender and a spotless stainless-steel exterior. This place has media chops; touted on the cover of local magazines as well as New York Times food articles and LA podcasts. It has even been referenced in GQ.

The truck also has a great location at 7th and Folsom; stumbling distance to Bloodhound and across the street from French wine bar, Terroir. It’s a great spot for take out, and given it’s served up in the snazziest lunch truck you’ve ever driven across, it better deliver. It mostly it does.

We’ve sampled Spencer on the Go’s fare on various occasions: First when it was newly open, and again during the summer months when the lavender was full in bloom. In the early spring, it was serving a luscious lobster salad with heirloom tomatoes and mâche ($12). It was a favorite with cool and crisp veggies with light vinaigrette, and the lobster was a decadent hit.

Katgely has done an excellent job choosing all the old-school French classics and pulling them off quite elegantly within the confines of a small, mobile space — with upscale recyclable utensils to boot. Other menu favorites were the lovely, small red potatoes with crème fraiche and caviar ($5), frogs’ legs and curry ($9), and Spencer’s delectable escargot puffs ($2). The latter continue to be a must-have, particularly for those afraid to try escargot while staring your friendly little snail in the eye.

The experiment continues and the menu has morphed. More recently we found a halibut soup ($5), a soupe de poisson, served with garlic toast. There was also a salmon roll ($7), or a rather bland roll with some lox, a Far West Fungi vol au vent ($9) and a ratatouille ($7), both worthy and each served with a crisp pastry.

Another regular on the menu is an heirloom tomato salad, most recently served with sliced figs ($5). Of course, everything is incredibly fresh, but nothing is necessarily crave-worthy, except maybe the now-absent lobster salad. Oh, and the cookies. There have been plenty of raves about those cookies in the cabinet behind the lavender.

So, while it’s a wonderful thing to find a truck and lovely vittles conveniently available, expectations should be tempered. Spencer on the Go is not Chez Spencer. But the concept is pure fun, and Chef Katgely is clearly relishing his time behind the wheel. And who’s to complain if someone offers up a quick diversion from your typical taco truck?


Reservations? No.